WILLIAM COHEE was born in England, March 17, 1800. He had one sister, Sarah, and three half-brothers, Richard Bishop, John Gooden and Levi Lee.
William Cohee was married in Delaware, October 15, 1822, and his wife died October 20, 1822, when their daughter, Mary Ann, was but five days old. She married Harry Madison about the year 1844. Mr. Cohee afterward married Miss Nancy Slaughter, at Dover, Delaware, October 12, 1824. She was of Welsh descent. Of this union ten children were born: Rachel, born in Delaware, August 25, 1827, died when only a few months old; Sarah was born in Delaware, September 3, 1830; Lydia, born in Pennsylvania, May 1, 1832, became the wife of William Thomas, of Menard county, Illinois, and resides in Oakford; W. T., born in Pennsylvania, February 13, 1834, and now living in Crowell, Nebraska, married Miss Marie Hall, March 16, 1866; C. A., born in Ohio, October 5, 1838, and now in Beemer, Nebraska, married Miss Minerva Cannon, a native of Illinois; Elizabeth, born in Indiana, October 14, 1840, became the wife of Calvin McKee, who died June 20, 1878, and after his death married C. P. Elliott and now resides in Oakford; Louisa, born in Indiana, March 5, 1842, died February 19, 1866; John, born in Illinois, February 20, 1845, died October 5, 1851; H. C., born in Illinois, August 1, 1848, and now living near Oakford, was married March 14, 1878, to Miss Bettie Brown, a native of Illinois; and Ann, now living in Norfolk, Nebraska, was born in Illinois May 5, 1851, and was married October 18, 1868, to W. A. King, a native of Illinois, who died October 14, 1903.
William Cohee was a miller by trade and worked in a mill to some extent after coming to Menard county, in 1842, being employed at Robinson's mill on Clary creek. He rented land of Samuel Watkins for three years and then bought land in Sandridge precinct, Menard county, living thereon until his death, March 17, 1852. He and his second wife were both buried on the farm. After his death his widow married John Dart and only lived until February 19, 1867.
William Cohee bought land, built a log cabin in which to shelter his family and then began breaking the wild prairie that he might plant his crop. He cut his timber for the house, made rails for fencing his place and used oxen in plowing. As time passed his fields began to yield golden grain and his farm took on the appearance of a highly cultivated tract of land. Leaving Menard county he went to Missouri, where he spent a year, but on the expiration of that period he returned to this locality and resumed general agricultural pursuits, and in connection with the tilling of the soil he engaged in the raising of cattle, hogs and horses. He continued at this until his death. He was a very busy, useful, active man, and at the time of his death he owned two hundred acres of land on which was a comfortable home, surrounded by fruit and shade trees of his own planting. He also did his own butchering and after killing his hogs would drive with a load of meat to Beardstown market, sell it at two and a half cents per pound dressed, and upon his return he would bring a load of merchandise from that place to the men at Petersburg. At his death his remains were interred upon the old farm near his home on a site, which he had selected as his last resting place, and when his wife was called from this life her remains were laid by his side. They were greatly respected by all their neighbors and many friends. Mr. Cohee gave his political allegiance to the Whig party.
Henry C. Cohee was born in Menard county, Illinois, August 1, 1848, and worked on the farm with his step-father until fourteen years of age. He attended school through the winter months when his assistance was not needed in the fields. In the early days he frequently engaged in hunting, shooting geese, ducks and turkeys, which he shipped to Springfield and Peoria. This proved quite a profitable source of remuneration, his sales at times amounting to as much as sixty dollars in a single month. He shot as many as eighty ducks in a day. After his father's death he went to live with C. J. McDole, working for his board during the winter months with the privilege of attending school. He was thus employed until sixteen years of age, after which he worked for E. Lownsbery at a salary of sixteen dollars per month. Later he was employed by Richard Gaines at thirty dollars per month. He next lived with Mr. Brown through the winter and in the following spring began working for Mr. Lownsbery at twenty-six dollars per month. The last man for whom he worked by the month was David W. Brown and later he began operating Mr. Brown's farm on shares. Subsequently he bought the interest of some of the other heirs in the old homestead place and is now operating about two hundred acres of the rich land. He raises the cereals which thrive best in this soil and he also has about five acres of land planted to small fruits, including strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.
On the 14th of March, 1878, Mr. Cohee was married to Miss Bettie Brown, a daughter of Leander J. and Margaret (Lownsbery) Brown. Her father was born in Chemung county, New York, was also a farmer and stock-raiser and engaged in the breeding of fine horses. He came to the west with his parents and remained at home up to the time of his marriage in 1836 to Miss Betsey Lownsbery, who died eight months later. On the 22d of October, 1837, he was joined in wedlock to Miss Margaret Lownsbery, who was also a native of Chemung county, New York. Mr. Brown built a log house and began farming for himself. Subsequently he purchased the interest of his brothers and sisters in the old homestead farm and was known for many years as a prosperous agriculturist of the community, having two hundred and forty acres of valuable land at the time of his death. He remained a resident of this county for about thirty-four years, having arrived in 1832, while his death here occurred on the 19th of February, 1866. His widow yet survives and now lives with her daughter, Mrs. Cohee. Mr. Brown was a Democrat in politics and was a man of most honorable and upright principals, who espoused the cause of Christianity and in his life exemplified its faith. He won the love of not only his immediate family, but of his neighbors and friends and his genuine worth was recognized by all who knew him. By his second marriage he had ten children, of whom three are now living, the sisters of Mrs. Cohee being Sophia, who is the widow of William Burton and resides in Oakford, Menard county; Julia, the wife of Charles Colson, who resides near Oakford.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Cohee has been blessed with nine children: Nancy E., born January 13, 1879; William C., born November 1, 1880; one that was born in 1883 and died in early infancy; Robert S., who was born June 23, 1885, and died November 24, 1887; Elias C., born September 5, 1887; Maggie E., born October 14, 1889; Leander J., born April 19, 1892; Anna J., born June 4, 1895, and died December 16, 1899; and Bessie, who was born January 10, 1899, and died on the 14th of February, following.
Henry C. Cohee exercised his right of franchise in the support of the men and measures of the Democracy and during the greater part of the time for the past thirty years he has served as a member of the school board. He has never sought or desired public office, however, as he has preferred to concentrate his energies upon his business affairs and through the careful conduct of his farming interests he has become one of the substantial agriculturists of the county in which his entire life has been passed.